Oxford Business Group focuses on Islamic financial services in first dedicated chapter in the report: Emerging Bahrain 2007

Oxford Business Group focuses on Islamic financial services in first dedicated chapter in the report: Emerging Bahrain 2007

The growing market in Islamic financial services is reviewed in detail by four leading Bahraini banking figures in a round table forum in The Report: Emerging Bahrain 2007, published by the highly acclaimed global publishing, research and consultancy firm Oxford Business Group (OBG).

The round table is contained in a chapter on Islamic financial services, the first ever in the Bahrain annual publication, and the Islamic roundtable discussion is also a major first.

Elise Postigo, OBG’s country director in Bahrain said: “This expanded and directed coverage is vital to investors, with the growth of Islamic banking in the region.

“It is a major OBG innovation, and the new chapter is featured as a response to subscriber feedback, which asked for more intense coverage on Islamic banking.”

In the roundtable discussion, Khalid Al Bassam, Chairman, Bahrain Islamic Bank, focused on the growth in the sector: “In the last seven years or so, the sector has been growing at a very steady pace.

“There have been more entrants into the market and this has led to a higher standard in the industry.

“However, one must realize that Islamic banks are now much better capitalized than perhaps a decade ago.

“Islamic banks have been recording good results so this has helped their equity base to undertake larger transactions.

“I personally believe that the industry will continue to grow.”

Adnan Ahmed Yousif, President and Chief Executive, Albaraka Banking Group, said: “Many newly licensed banks in the region are Islamic and the industry is steadily growing beyond the Muslim world, to such places as the UK.

“Islamic finance is becoming more sophisticated so growth should continue at a fairly rapid rate.

“After all, this is still a nascent industry. Islamic finance provides good investment opportunities for many clients, so I see its popularity increasing.”

Majid Al Refai, Managing Director and CEO of Unicorn Investment Bank, declared he had not found a shortage of qualified Islamic bankers in Bahrain: “On the contrary, I think that Bahrain has one of the most highly skilled workforces in the region in terms of banking in general and Islamic banking in particular.

“Having said that, it’s important for all of us working in the industry to continue to make it attractive for Bahrainis to enter the sector and to provide all entrants to the industry with solid training and career development opportunities.”

Esam Janahi, CEO of Gulf Finance House, said: “The shortage of skilled Islamic bankers is mainly a Western phenomenon, where the industry is still nascent.

“Having said that, in Bahrain, the education system is evolved and there is also an active training and internship programme offered by the BIBF in association with the University of Bahrain, the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) and other conventional and Islamic financial institutions in the kingdom.

“Most institutions run their own independent internship programmes.

“For example, at Gulf Finance House, we have an ongoing programme for graduates under the name of the “Ibda’a Graduate Programme.”

“This programme not only provides not only provides internships and training packages to Bahraini graduates, but also offers them employment opportunities across a wide spectrum of fields including Islamic finance.”

Rated as the premier guide for foreign direct investment into the country’s vibrant economy, The Report is an invaluable guide to the many facets of Bahrain, including macroeconomics, infrastructure, political landscape, banking and sectoral developments, and presents a remarkably in depth profile of the country.

Available in print form and online, The Report features a series of exclusive interviews with key officials and business leaders in what is considered the most extensive, independent, unbiased and accurate intelligence available, and is part of the range of OBG’s publications, which are renowned as leading sources of information on developing and emerging economies around the world.

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